What can we do if our landlord changed leases after we paid rent/the security deposit and moved in?

We signed a 3 year lease last month but the landlord never signed it. However, he did cash the check for this month’s rent and the 1 month security deposit. Last night he came in and gave us a totally different lease, much longer and very different than the original. He said that his attorney gave it to him for us to sign. Is this legal or is he bound by the original lease?

Asked on December 1, 2015 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If, as is most likely, the landlord gave you the original lease and you signed it (that is, it's not the case where *you* came up with the lease and presented it the landlord), then he is bound by it: in presenting a lease to you, he made an offer to contract (a lease is a contract), which offer you accepted by signing and paying the 1st month's rent and security deposit. Even if he did not countersign it, when party A presents a contract to party B, and party B signs the contract and does whatever party B is supposed to do under the contract, that creates a binding contract. So he would be bound by the original lease.

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